UEFA unlikely to support overseas Premier League matches

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 09, 2014 7:51 AM

By Mike Collett

LONDON (Reuters) - Any ideas England's Premier League might have of playing matches overseas would be unlikely to get any backing from UEFA, a top official of European soccer's governing body said on Thursday.

UEFA failed to support the idea when it was first mooted six years ago, and Gianni Infantino, UEFA's general secretary, told delegates at the Leaders In Sport Summit that he did not think UEFA would change its stance on the issue.

"Whenever these kind of things are discussed, we have to act in a responsible way within the rules that we've all agreed together," Infantino told delegates.

"Let's see what is the decision of UEFA on this. I don't think it will change (from 2008), it would be discussed, but I don't think it will change."

FIFA executive committee member Michel D'Hooghe, speaking to Reuters after Infantino's address, was asked if he supported the idea of a round of games being played overseas.

"My personal opinion is that this is a very dangerous precedent and I am not in favor," he said.

"I understand the reasons why they would like to do it, they are financial I suppose, but if you start doing that, where does it end?

"If there is one thing I have learned in my 40 years as president of the Belgium Football Association you must be afraid of the word 'precedent.' If you do something special for one why refuse it for someone else.

"If it would be my decision at FIFA, I would not allow it."


UEFA would only have direct jurisdiction over games being played outside of England if they were played elsewhere in Europe, and would not be directly involved if matches were played in a member association of another confederation.

However, they were against the idea in 2008 and it is inconceivable that FIFA would ignore UEFA objections if the matter came before them.

Matches could only be played overseas with the approval of the host nation, the confederation involved, and FIFA.

The Premier League's chief executive Richard Scudamore was widely criticized six years ago for a plan to introduce an extra match for each club -- the so-called "39th game" -- at venues in Asia, the United States, Australia and elsewhere.

However, it has been widely reported in Britain that clubs have discussed the idea again and that the revised plan would be for one of the existing 38 rounds of 10 fixtures to be played at various venues around the world.

Overseas television rights earn the Premier League more than two billion pounds ($3.22 billion) under the current three-year contract, of which almost half comes from Asia.

One stepping stone, reports said, was for the annual August Community Shield fixture between the league champions and FA Cup winners to be played overseas, as happens in Italian football.

A Premier League spokesman did not deny the plans had been discussed but said: "There are currently no proposals on the table."

(Editing by Ossian Shine)